Nearly $13 Million in NOAA Funding Recommended for Coastal and Marine Habitat Restoration Projects
To support our nation’s coastal and marine species, the NOAA Restoration Center is recommending nearly $13 million in funding for 31 new and continuing habitat restoration projects through our Community-based Restoration Program. These projects will restore habitat and ecosystems in 15 states and territories across the nation and build lasting benefits for communities and the environment.
The projects will support oysters, corals, and several fish species by reopening rivers to fish passage, reconnecting rivers to their floodplains, and reducing coastal runoff. They will also aid in the recovery of five NOAA Species in the Spotlight—white abalone, Central California Coast coho salmon, Atlantic salmon, Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, and the Southern Resident killer whale.
In addition to supporting coastal and marine species, habitat restoration benefits the coastal communities that rely on those habitats for clean drinking water, flood and storm protection, and industries like boating, fishing, and tourism
The NOAA Restoration Center, housed within the Office of Habitat Conservation, supports habitat restoration projects across the country where our nation’s fisheries and protected resources need it most. We provide technical and financial assistance to partners across the country to develop high-quality habitat restoration projects. Since 1996, our Community-based Restoration Program has partnered with more than 2,900 organizations to take on more than 2,180 projects. These efforts have restored more than 92,000 acres of habitat and opened up 4,126 miles of streams and rivers to fish migration.
In Fiscal Year 2020, we are recommending $4.7 million in funding for 16 new restoration projects, and $8.2 million in additional funding for 15 ongoing restoration projects. Recipients and their partners come from all sectors, including nonprofits; federal, state, and local agencies; tribes; private sector businesses; and academia.
Southeast and Caribbean
The North Carolina Coastal Federation, in partnership with the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries, will add up to 15 acres of new oyster reef habitat to the Swan Quarter Oyster Sanctuary in Pamlico Sound, North Carolina. Restoration will benefit species such as gag grouper and white, brown, and pink shrimp. ($750,000)
Sociedad Ambiente Marino will restore endangered corals and seagrass beds damaged by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Over the course of the project, 21,000 threatened elkhorn corals and staghorn corals and 4,128 seagrass plugs will be planted near existing coral sites to speed up the natural recovery process. ($345,998)
Protectores de Cuencas will stabilize three to four miles of unpaved roads in Culebra, Puerto Rico, to address runoff and reduce impacts to coral reefs. The project builds on prior efforts to address land-based sources of pollution and support conservation of the Northeast Reserves Marine Ecological Corridor Habitat Focus Area. ($235,491)
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi will restore oyster reef habitat in St. Charles Bay, Texas. The project will create 3.9 acres of new oyster reef that will support saltwater recreational fisheries, reduce shoreline erosion, and benefit black drum, stone crab, skilletfish, and other economically important species. ($353,456)
The Florida Aquarium will propagate, grow, and plant 4,250 threatened elkhorn corals to help restore 1,785 square meters of coral habitat at Looe Key and Horseshoe Reefs, two of the seven reefs outlined in the innovative “Mission: Iconic Reefs.” Diadema urchins will also be spawned and raised at a land-based facility. ($300,000) Also funded by the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program.
Protectores de Cuencas will build on ongoing efforts in Culebra, Puerto Rico—a NOAA Habitat Focus Area—to address sediment from unstabilized dirt roads, which can lead to polluted runoff draining into the ocean and impacting coral reefs. Six to seven miles of dirt roads will be stabilized to address runoff from bare soil areas. ($234,340)
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources will create 13 living shorelines to address habitat loss and erosion in Charleston County. The projects create three acres of oyster reefs and salt marsh along 3,800 linear feet of shoreline, restoring habitat for species such as red drum, summer flounder, and white shrimp. ($358,539)
The Nature Conservancy will restore the floodplain and remove barriers to fish migration on the Roanoke River in North Carolina. In addition to restoring habitat for shortnose sturgeon, Atlantic sturgeon, and river herring, the project will reduce flooding and enhance water quality in local communities. ($259,986)
The Coral Restoration Foundation will outplant more than 84,000 nursery-grown corals to restore degraded coral reef habitat and promote the recovery of threatened and endangered coral species. The corals will come from existing nurseries and will be secured to the reef using best management practices for coral restoration. ($1,395,000) Also funded by the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program.
Mote Marine Lab will restore degraded coral reef habitat and promote the recovery of threatened and endangered coral species in the Florida Keys. The project will grow 10,000 corals across five different species each year, and outplant 30,000 corals by securing them to the reef using best management practices for coral restoration. ($1,405,000) Also funded by the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program.